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ALBUQUERQUE – Throughout the last several seasons, the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls track and field team has known it has had a very good team top-to-bottom.
The Hilltoppers got a chance to show that off Friday afternoon.
Los Alamos took part in the Albuquerque Public Schools Relays Friday at Milne Stadium. Los Alamos took home top honors in the meet, which consisted entirely of relay events, with a total of 86 points, 20 points better than the St. Pius X Sartans, seen as one of the biggest threats to unseat Los Alamos from its three-year reign as 4A team champion.
“This meet is so much more competitive,” said Hilltopper senior Mariah Zerr. “All the teams, they put in their good girls, their fast legs. It’s fun to see all these different types of relays and the girls competing in them.”
One of the more unusual races the meet features in the 400-meter shuttle hurdles, where competitors run 100 meters in one direction and, after completing that, a teammate runs in the adjacent lane in the opposite direction.
Los Alamos didn’t compete in that event but the look of the track in front of the competitors can be discombobulating – a virtual sea of hurdles. As one St. Pius runner put it, “I don’t even know what I’m doing.”
Los Alamos looked to be the favorite in the first event, the 6400 meter relay – a relay featuring four legs of one mile.
Despite being an event seemingly tailor-made for the Hilltoppers’ powerful distance unit, Los Alamos never led in the race. The race was won wire-to-wire by St. Pius.
In that race, Los Alamos’ Teresa Sandoval passed a runner for Albuquerque Academy with about 300 meters left in her second leg and was only about 20 meters behind the St. Pius frontrunner when she handed off to teammate Mikayla Pulliam.
Pulliam whittled the lead down quickly and was on the heels of the frontrunner for almost her entire leg. Jennifer Mooday, running the final leg for Los Alamos, kept pace with St. Pius’ Marissa Nathe for two laps, but Nathe, who went out on her mile very fast, finished her leg in impressive fashion to pick up a comfortable victory.
The Hilltoppers bounced back to take the 400 relay title in convincing fashion, while Amy Neal gutted out the last 100 meters of the 1600 relay despite a gusting headwind and Los Lunas’ anchor bearing down hard down the homestretch.
Neal had the best split of the day in the race (1:01.34) and helped secure a state qualifying mark.
In the shot put, Hilltopper star Chase Ealey added to her school record by nearly a foot, throwing 46 feet, 7 inches just four days after her win at the Marilyn Sepulveda Meet of Champions.
Also Friday, Sarah Stubbens’ leap of 33 feet even was good enough to qualify in the 4A triple jump competition.
In the pole vault competition – all the field events were tabbed as relays, too, with the best marks from each school’s entries combined – Los Alamos won as all three competitors, Zerr, Neal and Morgan Schake, cleared 8 feet.
The team hooted wildly as Schake cleared her opening height of 8 feet despite hitting the bar pretty hard on her first attempt. Neal, meanwhile, cleared 8-6 for the first time this season, qualifying herself for the state championship meet next month.
This season, Zerr, a senior, has been named captain of the team, a responsibility she takes very seriously and one that has even benefited her.
“I feel so much more confident in everything I do,” she said. “I’m really honored to be the team captain. We push each other so much and it’s made me push myself, too.”
1. Los Alamos, 86; 2. St. Pius X, 66; 3. Cibola, 46; (tie) Sandia, 46; 5. Albuquerque Academy, 37; (tie) Los Lunas, 37; 7. Albuquerque, 27; (tie) Del Norte, 27; 9. Highland, 24; 10. Valley, 12; 11. Manzano, 8; 12. Bosque School, 6; 13. West Mesa, 1; Atrisco Heritage, no score.
2. Los Alamos (Jordan Parker, Teresa Sandoval, Mikayla Pulliam, Jennifer Mooday), 23:02.76.
1. Los Alamos (Laura Wendelberger, Amy Neal, Morgan Schake, Chase Ealey), 49.51.
1. Los Alamos (Laura Wendelberger, Mariah Zerr, Jordan Ahlers, Amy Neal), 4:12.90.
Los Alamos (Mariah Zerr, Katie Turner, Jordan Ahlers, Morgan Schake), 1:54.32.
4. Los Alamos (Teresa Sandoval, Jordan Parker, Mikayla Pulliam, Jennifer Mooday), 11:00.87.
1600 medley relay
5. Los Alamos (Laura Wendelberger, Chase Ealey, Amy Neal, Sarah Stubben), 4:43.56.
Long jump relay
1. Los Alamos (Laura Wendelberger, 17-4, Chelsea Chalacombe, 15-4 1/2, Christina Moore, 13-10 1/2), 46-7.
High jump relay
1. Los Alamos (Laura Wendelberger, 4-10, Allison Rooney, 4-8, Chelsea Chalacombe, 4-8), 14-2.
Pole vault relay
1. Los Alamos (Mariah Zerr, 8-6, Amy Neal, 8-6, Morgan Schake, 8-0), 25-0.
Shot put relay
1. Los Alamos (Chase Ealey, 46-7, Chelsea Chalacombe, 32-7, Morgan Schake, 25-4), 104-6.
Triple jump relay
3. Los Alamos (Sarah Stubben, 33-0, Allison Rooney, 31-9), 64-9.
2. Los Alamos (Chase Ealey, 110-2, Chelsea Chalacombe, 81-1, Morgan Schake, 75-9.), 267-0.